Popup Campers and RV Boondocking: Wilderness Survival Tactics

Popup campers, being such small RVs, are great for a few days of backcountry boondocking. When hitched up to a four-wheel drive vehicle, this is one RV that can go just about anywhere. Bring along some extra jugs of water and plenty of food and it's possible to get away to the wilderness for a week or more. But do you have the skills to survive?

In case you're not familiar with the term "boondocking", it means camping without hookups. You'll be relying on your RV's onboard systems. It's a great feeling, to be free, living off the grid, and camping on your own patch of paradise.

You do have to plan ahead when relying on nothing but your popup camper's onboard systems. Here are some questions you'll want to ask yourself - before getting lost in paradise...

Pop-Up Camper RV Boondocking

Battery Power

Do you have enough battery power to last the duration of your outing? If not, do you have a way to recharge the batteries? Methods for recharging the batteries while boondocking include:

  • RV solar panels - The best way to charge your batteries. It's safe, silent, virtually maintenance free, best for your batteries, and completely automatic. Solar panels can be mounted on your roof, or kept portable and placed in the sun, while you camp in the shade.
  • Portable generator - Noisy, smelly, requires maintenance, and is a possible fire hazard, but will charge your batteries and is a good backup charging method.
  • Your tow vehicle's engine alternator - By far the least efficient method as you may have to run your engine for several hours to get a full charge.

You can conserve battery power by turning off or unplugging any devices that constantly consume power. Avoid using your furnace, as it will quickly drain your batteries. Replacing incandescent lights with fluorescent or LED lights will greatly prolong battery life.


How much freshwater can the tank on your popup camper hold, and is it enough? The average city dweller uses around 70 gallons of water a day! Finding a popup trailer that can hold more than 30 gallons of freshwater is rare. Obviously you'll need to cut back on water consumption while boondocking. Bringing a few extra jugs of water can extend your camping adventure.

Ways to conserve water include:

  • Taking navy showers (if you're lucky enough to have a shower!)
  • Wiping dishes clean with paper towels before washing
  • Using paper plates and foam bowls to reduce dishwashing
  • Using hand sanitizer to wash hands


What goes down the drain, must eventually be emptied at the dump station. Of course, conserving water with the tips above will help in this department too.

How large are your wastewater holding tanks? Experience will teach you how long you can go, before the tanks overflow! Leaving a jug of water outside for washing up will cut down on the amount of water going down your drains. Another trick is to shower outside with a camp shower, or use the outside shower.

Toy Hauler Pop-Up Camper


Got your propane cylinders topped off? Great! Unless you're using propane to heat the popup camper, you shouldn't have a problem running out. One 20 pound cylinder can last 2-3 weeks or longer if propane is only used for cooking and running a hot water heater.

Need a little heat? Unfortunately your popup trailer's furnace is not very efficient with propane use. You'll be much better off using a catalytic heater or open-flame propane heater as these are far more efficient. Another bonus is that these heaters use no electricity.

More Popup Camper Articles

Hope you learned a tactic or two about pop-up wilderness survival. Before trekking off into the bush, click a link below to continue the pop-up tour...

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